Lear and the Tennyson family also had a mutual love of play – a Tennyson family trait that is manifested more strongly in the Lear correspondence than anywhere else.

The letters are wonderfully awash with anecdotes, illustrations, and nonsensical chatter, and provide fresh insight into the lives of their correspondents.

Edward Lear, ink sketch of ‘The cat, the clouds, with Rainbow: — as seen from Manducilio. December 19th, 1855’, sent to the Tennysons by Franklin Lushington (object 5439A). More information.

Emily Tennyson, letter to Edward Lear, 11 Jan 1856 (object 5437), describing Alfred's pasting and ironing of Lear’s nonsense alphabet letters in front of the whole household. Transcription.

Edward Lear, letter to Emily Tennyson, 5 Jan 1876 (object 5530), congratulating the family on Lionel’s engagement and including an illustration of himself with 'Cat Foss', captioned ‘View in Villa Emily, Sanremo’.

Edward Lear, letter to Alfred Tennyson, 28 Nov 1880 (object 5542), giving feedback on the new edition of Alfred’s poems and delivering a joke using the mechanics of the letter paper. Transcription.